One hundred years ago, the first issue of The National Tent and Awning Manufacturers Review was issued to association members. In 1915, World War I deepened in Europe: in January, the first German Zeppelin attack occurred over Great Britain; in May, the SS Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine; in April, the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks began.
The U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote; Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary) was arrested and returned to quarantine after 5 years of hiding from health authorities (and causing several outbreaks); John Gruelle patented his Raggedy Ann doll; Babe Ruth hit his first home run; and Sir Cecil Chubb bought Stonehenge for £6,600 on a whim, apparently as a gift for his wife, who reportedly was not impressed. (Three years later, he gave it to England, saying it “belonged to the nation.”)
In that first issue, reporting on positive news from the Department of Commerce, secretary-editor James E. McGregor stated: “In view of the disastrous results which are accruing to the belligerents in Europe it is some satisfaction to know that the fruits of peace are to be more desired than the glories of war.” Providing coverage on the association’s fourth annual convention, held in Minneapolis, “Mac” commented on the arrest of a burglar, the fire at the Hotel Radisson (no members were harmed) and how “the presence of the ladies lends tone to the gathering” (a situation we’re happy to report still holds true today). Ultimately, he noted: “Every meeting brought out some new idea and purpose, something tangible; something which laid the foundation for present and future efficiency.”
That is still the goal of IFAI Expo each year, just as it is still the goal of this magazine to do what that first editorial discussed: to give to members “information which would help them in their work of reconstruction amongst themselves and their fellow craftsmen,” as well as “the possibility of bringing into closer relationship the manufacturer and the jobber.” In this month’s Perspective interview, Robert Cole also talks about how much value is provided to this industry by having so many reputable suppliers focused on quality and customer service. Each year at IFAI Expo, we foster a real conversation among all parts of the specialty fabrics industry—including the editors of this magazine.
We often refer to the Review as “a trade show in print.” (Although I prefer to think of IFAI Expo as “a magazine in person.”) Next month, our 100-year anniversary issue will include a special section on the history of the Review and of our industry, and how that history will guide the next century of coverage in this magazine. Please visit our booth at the show, or pounce as you see us in seminars or on the show floor, and start a conversation about what you’d like to see in these pages in the future—as you quietly admire our advanced age. We plan to get a lot older.